Friday 24 June 2016

How the EU Referendum was won

As dawn broke this morning, I’d had enough. The vote on the UK’s membership of the European Union had reached the point where the leave position was unassailable. The sight of Nigel Farage on television delivering a victory speech was the last straw.

“The dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom.” he declared. “If the predictions now are right, this will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people.”

Give him his due: this has been his personal raison d’être for the last two decades.

The vote to exit the EU was won with the votes of the working class heartlands of the north of England. People who have felt increasingly excluded from mainstream politics have kicked back at the establishment.

They have been encouraged by the rhetoric of Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage—the extreme right-wing triumvirate that have been posing, successfully, as champions of the real people, the ordinary people, the decent people of Farage’s victory speech. These millionaires managed—incredibly—to reinvent themselves as anti-establishment champions.

Make no mistake, for most who have been suffering under crisis-ridden capitalism, this was not primarily a vote on the EU. It was a vote that was telling the political elite they’d had enough. Enough of being ignored, as they have been for years by mainstream political parties squabbling over the centre ground.

Primarily it was about immigration. Whilst the Remain campaign assured us immigration is good for the economy they ignored those struggling on low pay in insecure jobs who don’t feel the benefits, who feel threatened.

This is the issue that has been taken up by the Leave campaign with enthusiasm. Farage in particular has been unapologetically racist. Though metropolitan liberal types shuddered at his “Breaking Point” poster it struck a chord elsewhere. In this respect Farage played a blinder.

But in reality he’s managed to pull off the con-trick to end them all.

We will find out in the coming months or years just how hollow the promises of the leavers really have been. They will feel they now have the mandate to screw the low paid even further through wage cuts and ending what protections to their conditions that currently exist. Protections which existed thanks in part to the EU.

Posing as champions of ordinary people, Farage, Gove and Johnson have taken a step towards power which will see those same ordinary people suffer like never before. It’s a prospect that should make every person’s blood boil with anger.

Earlier in the evening, when things looked less likely to go his way, Farage had all but conceded defeat based on “what I know from some of my friends in the financial markets.”

That’s the true measure of this charlatan’s anti-establishment credentials.

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